Historic child grave dug up at Swedish church

Historic child grave dug up at Swedish church
The crypt at Munka Ljungby church. Photo: Mikael Forsberg
Swedish construction workers have stumbled on a well-preserved burial chamber containing around 20 coffins, including children's, while refurbishing a church in Munka Ljungby in southern Sweden.

The crypt, which may be up to 500 years old, was sealed off in the 1930s and had not been opened since. But construction workers installing new drain pipes accidentally dug too far and uncovered the medieval tomb.

“There were around 20 coffins in the crypt all over the place. It was not a dignified room,” architect Mikael Forsberg told regional newspaper Kvällsposten.

Some of the smaller coffins are believed to have belonged to children.

“It's tragic to see, but you know that child mortality was higher back then,” said Forsberg.

Some of the coffins. Photo: Mikael Forsberg

The church in Munka Ljungby was built in the 12th century by monks from a nearby monastery. It was used by the residents of Skillinge, a large mansion built by Danish nobility family Krabbe.

“The crypt is from somewhere between the 16th century and the 19th century. It's definitely no later than from 1860,” archaeologist Per Sarnäs told The Local on Tuesday after news of the find hit the headlines in Sweden.

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But despite the regional press buzzing with excitement over the historic find, the apparently somewhat blasé archaeologist was less impressed.

“I don't know why there's media interest. The crypt has been known about since the 1930s,” he said.

Munka Ljungby church. Photo: Gunilla Carlsson

The room is now set to be sealed off again with a small window installed for workers' access. But everything will be left the way it was to respect the peace of the dead.

“We're not going to turn this into some kind of tourist attraction,” said Forsberg.

Interview by Emma Lidman